Buzz sues 'woman of his dreams' over business
Published 14/08/2011 | 05:00
He became an idol of the space-race generation, pulling off one of mankind's greatest achievements and proving himself as an all-American hero with the world at his feet.
But more than four decades after he and Neil Armstrong became the first men on the Moon, Buzz Aldrin, 81, is experiencing the dark side.
In recent years he has converted his fame into a multi-million dollar industry through books, celebrity appearances, endorsements and even a rap song.
Yet now the octogenarian astronaut is fighting to regain control of his own name and image in a legal showdown with his wife Lois, whom he is divorcing, and her daughter, Lisa Cannon.
He accuses Ms Cannon, a lawyer whom he has previously credited with helping to turn his business life around, of having duped him into signing a contract that gave her and her mother a majority stake in Starbuzz, the business that manages and promotes Buzz Aldrin and his Rocket Hero brand.
He wants a judge to void the 2007 agreement, which was drawn up by Ms Cannon, after belatedly discovering that it granted her and her mother the rights to "essentially everything he has other than his clothes, car and home", according to a lawsuit filed in his name.
The lawsuit notes that Mr Aldrin had not known that its terms allowed the women to "own him in perpetuity".
The complaint, filed last week in Santa Monica, California, came seven weeks after Mr Aldrin called a meeting at home with his wife, Ms Cannon and other family members. After 23 years of marriage, he announced he wanted a divorce. A lawyer stepped forward to serve Mrs Aldrin with divorce papers, according to Ms Cannon.
Yet since the couple's Valentine's Day wedding in 1988, Mr Aldrin had appeared devoted to the cheerful, energetic wife he called "the woman of my dreams".
"Every Superman needs his Lois," he wrote in his 2009 autobiography, Magnificent Desolation -- The Long Journey Home from the Moon.
The strife adds another sad chapter to Mr Aldrin's eventful life story.
Watched by a global audience of 600 million people, Nasa's Apollo 11 lunar landing in 1969 made him one of the most famous people on -- and off -- the planet.
But depression, alcoholism, two failed marriages, the loss of his Air Force and Nasa careers and a stint as a car salesman followed, before he met Lois Driggs Cannon, a wealthy banker's daughter, at a party in 1985.
Since then they have travelled the world together, meeting heads of state, staying with monarchy and enjoying celebrity status.
Starbuzz was created in 2007, setting in place a formal business structure to protect Mr Aldrin's name and image. Mr and Mrs Aldrin each hold a 35 per cent stake, and Ms Cannon 30 per cent. As manager, she set up lucrative endorsement deals for products including Louis Vuitton luggage, Tommy Hilfiger fashions, Apple computers and Citroen cars.
While Neil Armstrong shrank from the public limelight, Mr Aldrin embraced it to the extent of competing on television's Dancing with the Stars and collaborating with Snoop Dogg to record Rocket Hero, a hip-hop track. His cult status received a boost in 2007 when, confronted by a conspiracy theorist who accused him of faking the Moon landing, he lashed out with a powerful right hook.
Some of his Apollo-era peers balk at his commercial profile and grand persona.
The exact cause of the marital split is not revealed in divorce papers, which simply cite "irreconcilable differences". The role of a former museum marketing executive named Susan Douglas also remains unclear.